OPERATIONS

NRF credits Obama on ‘patent troll’ response

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation (NRF) is publicly crediting the Obama administration for its response to “patent trolls,” or companies that purchase patents for the sole purpose of launching infringement suits against other companies. The administration has implemented a series of executive actions designed to have the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office promote transparency, clarity and fairness in the patent process.

David French, senior VP of the NRF, held meetings at the White House on Feb. 20. Before the meetings, he issued a statement supporting the Obama administration’s efforts.

“The National Retail Federation credits the administration’s attention to strengthening the United States patent system and proposing a series of measures aimed at protecting Main Street retailers and restaurants from abusive patent trolls,” said French. “The President has recognized the economic harm caused by patent trolls, and we welcome the administration’s leadership on this priority. Further transparency, clarity, education and enforcement are all welcome steps for the nation’s business community. Congress needs to act this year on patent reform and address the lingering questions around demand letter transparency, the customer stay provision and expanded covered business method patents in order to fully protect local shops and stores from costly and abusive patent troll lawsuits.”

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FINANCE

Report: Valentine’s Day sales fall in advance, rise on holiday

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. – Sales for Valentine’s Day this year fell prior to the holiday compared to the same period in 2013, but rose on the actual holiday itself, Feb. 14. According to new figures from site analytics provider RetailNext, men’s stores (that have gifts for men) saw decreased (-13.8%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +22.2% in sales on Valentine’s Day itself in 2014.

Meanwhile, women’s stores (that have gifts for women) saw decreased (-13.5%) sales the day before Valentine’s, but an increase of +15.2% in sales on Valentine’s Day itself in 2014. For all retailers examined, the three days before Valentine’s Day saw a -7.4% decrease in sales and -6.7% decline in traffic on average when compared to Feb. 11-13 in 2013.

RetailNext analysis indicates that Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday in 2014, as compared to a Thursday in 2013, made it easier for more people to shop that day.

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OPERATIONS

OfficeMax launches diversity hiring initiative

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boca Raton, Fla. – As part of its “Maxing Out Diversity” program, OfficeMax is partnering with healthcare company ViaQuest to develop a work-training facility and direct employment program to prepare veterans and people with disabilities for job opportunities at Ohio-based OfficeMax locations. The program, which will launch in summer 2014, is similar to those that OfficeMax has initiated in Alabama, Illinois, and Nevada.

The partnership, facilitated through a two-year grant from Kessler Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitation research and funding disability employment initiatives, will use a real-world work environment and specialized curriculum to train people with disabilities for careers within OfficeMax’s distribution and retail centers. ViaQuest also has connected with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, the statewide agency for employment and rehabilitation services, to identify potential participants for the OfficeMax training program.

“Our partnership with OfficeMax is a testament to how we’re expanding our circle of care to provide more opportunities for individuals to secure private-sector employment,” said Rich Johnson, CEO of ViaQuest. “At the same time, we’re well positioned to help companies such as OfficeMax reach their diversity and inclusion goals.”

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